- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2013

Gee, that was quick — this week’s G-8 summit is already off to a rocky start.

Russia’s support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad — who has been accused of killing his own people with sarin gas and other chemical agents — all but guarantees that the G-8 nations will not come to a unanimous decision on how to proceed with assisting Syrian rebels in the country’s ongoing civil war.

At least one official at the G-8, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, suggested that Russia shouldn’t even be at the table with other world leaders.

He blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting the “thugs of the Assad regime” and all but dismissed Russia from meaningful involvement in this week’s talks.

“I don’t think we should fool ourselves. This is the G-7 plus one. Let’s be blunt, that’s what this is: the G-7 plus one,” Mr. Harper said, according to the Toronto Star.

The G-8 includes the U.S., Canada, Russia. Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan.

SEE ALSO: Obama at G-8: Northern Ireland peace an example for war-torn world

The group is holding its annual meeting this week at a resort in Northern Ireland, with the Syrian civil war expected to dominate the agenda. The recent U.S. decision to arm Syrian rebel forces has been met with approval from Great Britain, France and other nations.

But Russia remains a key ally of the Assad regime. Mr. Putin is set to sit down with President Obama Monday in the hopes of finding common ground on Syria.

Following his own meeting with Mr. Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday said he believes the nations can “overcome these differences” with Russia and work together to end the Syrian conflict and keep the nation from breaking apart.

Mr. Harper, however, does not seem to share that optimism.

“Unless there’s a big shift on [Putin’s] part, we’re not going to get a common position with him at the G8,” he said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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